How many billboards?
David Lamelas
Photo by patricia parinejad

David Lamelas

David Lamelas has a restless and peregrinating artistic practice that addresses the parameters of time and space. He has investigated these topics in a range of post-minimalist installations, performances, photos, and films since his participation in Argentina's nascent avant-garde during the early 1960s. Lamelas is best known for the structuralist films and media installations he produced in London and Los Angeles during the late 1960s and early 1970s, which questioned art's capacity as both a means of communication and a medium for creating self-awareness. Key to these projects was Lamelas's interest in relating techniques and systems used by the film and television industry to the burgeoning discourse on public space and media technology. His installation Office of Information about the Vietnam War at Three Levels: The Visual Image, Text, and Audio (1968), for example, helped establish the practice of bringing real-time information (news reports and television footage) into the space of the gallery.

Lamelas has continued to critique conventions of representation in his more recent projects, which foreground demonstrations of stardom and celebrity. For How Many Billboards?, he takes aim at the archetypal rock star. Lamelas documents himself in the lead with hair slicked back and wearing a rolled-up black t-shirt revealing generic tribal tattoos. The electric pink hue of his face and exaggerated pose of his body leaning into the microphone add to the overall distortion of the image of an aging rock god. The phrase "Think of Good" hangs in the atmosphere like a mantra or refrain from a clichéd song. Lamelas's insertion of himself into this particular role refers back to Rock Star (Character Appropriation) (1974), a suite of seven black-and-white self-portraits that depict Lamelas in the rock aesthetic of the mid 1970s-loose, long hair and skintight jeans. The terms Lamelas uses to describe both projects have little to do with acting or role-play, but rather with what he labels "character appropriation." In this manner, Lamelas points to two seemingly contradictory tendencies within Conceptual Art's critique of representation: the aspiration for self-criticality and emancipation from the art world's dependency on cult or star status, and a full-scale assimilation of the technologies of both media and spectacle culture.
By Gloria Sutton

LOCATION: Pico Blvd, west of Fairfax Ave, on the south side of the street, facing east.
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David Lamelas (b. 1946)
Born in Argentina, David Lamelas, lived in London before he moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Since the 1960s, David Lamelas has been among the most important proponents of a conceptual approach to art. His early structuralist films and media installations, made in the '60s and '70s, display a highly individual treatment of time and space. In his projects, Lamelas deals with the question of the limits of art's temporality, and its potential for creating alternative processes of communication and cognition. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2008); Wien Secession, Vienna (2006); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2005). He was part of the group exhibition The Quick and the Dead at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis (2009).

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